Student Faces Barriers To Become First-Generation College Student

by Anika Mittu ’19

As a first-generation college applicant, senior Jose Arevalo exhibits a passion for opportunity that seems to have dulled in the majority of other second-semester seniors.

“What inspired me [to apply] was the desire to succeed and excel in this country,” said Arevalo.

At the age of 14, Arevalo and his parents left their home in El Salvador and immigrated to Maryland. After attending Springbrook for one school year, Arevalo transferred to Sherwood for his sophomore year.

Throughout all of his high school education, Arevalo has thoroughly enjoyed Spanish as one of his favorite subjects. In fact, Arevalo’s enthusiasm for the language and culture has wholly influenced his career choice.

“I want to [become] a Spanish teacher because I would like other students to learn a new language and also learn about Latin America,” said Arevalo.

In order to pursue Spanish and Education, Arevalo decided to apply to Montgomery College. After hearing positive reviews about the school from a current attendee, Arevalo felt incredibly intrigued and excited for his potential future on campus. His enthusiasm only continued to grow after speaking with his ESOL Counselor Myrta Molina, who informed Arevalo of all the various course offerings and activities available through attending the community college.

Despite Arevalo’s undeniable motivation, the actual application process presented frustrating language barriers. Due to his lack of fluency in English, Arevalo occasionally struggled with understanding certain application questions and some of the technical vocabulary featured on the required forms.

Nevertheless, Molina consistently addressed any of Arevalo’s language-related concerns and questions regarding the application. “Language was an issue and there are some [words] that I don’t know, so [Ms. Molina] helped me translate certain words in the application,” said Arevalo. “I had [so much] support from my ESOL counselor, and she was there when I had doubts.”

In addition to receiving support from Sherwood, Arevalo received encouragement from his parents, as they did not have the ability to receive a college education themselves. Arevalo’s parents expressed the desire to watch their son succeed in America, and knew the power of a college education in helping him attain a bright future. “My parents [wanted] me to apply because they think that is the right thing to do—they want me to be successful in life,” said Arevalo.

Although he has not heard back from admissions officers at this time, Arevalo hopes to receive a message from Montgomery College soon. In the meanwhile, he remains very excited to further his education

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *